American Elements CEO Projects Higher Prices for Numerous Rare Earth-Based Consumer Products

Products as Diverse as Automobiles and Light Bulbs to Dental Services, Welding Goggles and Cable TV Fees Will All Be Affected—And Possibly Higher Taxes

Sep 27, 2011, 08:00 ET from American Elements

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers can expect significantly higher prices for a variety of consumer goods that use rare earth metals as at least one raw material, according to Michael Silver, president and chairman of the board of American Elements, a global manufacturer of engineered and advanced materials including rare earth metals and chemicals.

"The U.S. consumer has no idea the number of simple everyday products that will be impacted by the huge jump over the last year in rare earth prices," says Silver. "Over the past two decades rare earths have become essential to the state of the art version of hundreds of household goods."

According to Silver, computers, cell phones and other electronics will see manufacturing costs rise as neodymium is in computer hard drives, cerium is in the monitor screens and other rare earths play a part in the electronics.  Products that rely on small electric motors often contain Neodymium magnets which have increased many fold in price.

Possibly the biggest impact will be felt in the cost of the family car.

"Rare Earths are ubiquitous in automobiles, he says. "Cerium is in the window glass to prevent yellowing and used as a glass polish in production. Yttrium is in spark plugs. Neodymium is in the electric motors that run everything from seat adjustments to windshield wipers. Lanthanum is in the batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles."

He predicts higher prices will ripple through not just cars but all forms of transportation. The applications effecting automobiles will equally raise costs for other forms of transportation such as flight and rail.

Silver cites light bulbs as an example that consumers do not realize are affected by rare earth prices as Cerium is in bulb glass and Europium acts as the phosphor in fluorescent lights.

He predicts dental care costs will rise. Silver reports amalgam used to fill cavities is now based on a rare earth compound to get the new all white fillings to show up on an X-Ray the way the old metal fillings did.

Neodymium is used in modern welding goggles to remove glare. "Neodymium is a very magical material with many unrelated capabilities. When dispersed in glass, it prevents the wave length associated with yellow-green light from passing through, which is the wave length that causes eye damage," Silver says.

Silver says the consumer will ultimately feel the pinch in cable television costs as well.  Fiber optic cables run on EDFA technology which stands for 'Erbium-Doped Fiber Amplification', a technology reliant on the availability of Erbium which has skyrocketed in price. Existing infrastructures will not be impacted. New and replacement lines will.

American consumers may even be impacted at tax time. Silver says, "Our entire military equipment budget will increase due to higher rare earth costs and that will translate into higher government demand for revenue." Rare earths are essential in the production of bullet proof vests (yttrium), night vision goggles (gadolinium) and F-35 and F-22 Fighter Jets, Bradley Armored Vehicle and AIM-9x Sidewinder missiles (neodymium).

American Elements is the world's manufacturer of engineered & advanced materials with corporate offices and primary research & laboratory facilities in the United States and manufacturing & warehousing in the United States, China, Mexico and the United Kingdom. http://www.americanelements.com/

Contact:  Rob Wynne, rob@wynnepr.com, 310.540.7204

SOURCE American Elements



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